Good medicine: Engineering Fair taps youth, inventiveness


A device that marks dollar bills in Braille, a wheelchair equipped with a keypad for communication, and an easy-slip-on, self-strapping shoe for some seniors and others with disabilities represent just a few of the inventions students in grades six through 12 will present at the March 9 BEST Medicine engineering fair.

Big Brain Theory team members have invented this shoe, which, at the tap of a foot, automatically fits itself to a wearer's foot.

Hosted by The University of Akron and the Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron, the event challenges youngsters to create medical devices and innovative therapeutic inventions while engaging them in discussions with health care researchers.

Students from throughout Northeast Ohio are expected to show off their ingenuity at event, which will take place at the National Inventors Hall of Fame School...Center for STEM Learning in Akron.

Directed by Dr. Brian Davis, professor and chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering, BEST Medicine encourages students to explore all aspects of medical device invention, from applying for patents to developing prototypes. A group of Euclid middle school students cross-trained in mathematics, science, computer skills, language arts and social studies, for example, will present everything from product literature reviews to engineering goals and constraints.

Members of the Big Brain Theory team will present their BBT Shoe at the BEST Medicine engineering fair this weekend.

Among the young inventors invited to participate in the fair, is a group of six North Canton Middle School girls, known as the Big Brain Theory. They will compete with their BBT Shoe.

The team developed the special shoe, which, at the tap of a foot, automatically fits itself to a wearer's foot. Led by Women in Engineering Director Heidi Cressman, the young inventors, who have competed with the BBT Shoe in the Northeast Ohio LEGO League District Tournament, were thrilled to receive an invitation to participate in BEST Medicine.
"By being invited to participate, it took the project to the next level," Cressman says. "It gave the girls the first inkling that people were looking at what they've done and saying, 'That's a really good idea.'"

Cressman says that the team's selection to participate in the fair didn't stop with an invitation. The students  had to apply for consideration and write an abstract about their invention.

"BEST Medicine is a big deal," Cressman says, inferring subtly that the BBT Shoe might also be a big deal. Already, the middle school inventors applied for a patent on the shoe and Reebok has agreed to advise the team on shoe material and style.

The engineering fair, which runs from 7:45 a.m. to 3 p.m., is open to the public. To learn more, visit BEST Medicine online.

Media contact: Denise Henry, 330-972-6477 or